tv Charlie Rose WHUT January 22, 2013 11:00pm-12:00am EST
>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin this evening with james taylor, talking about singing "america the beautiful" at the inauguration and a lifetime in music. >> i think there comes a point where you start probably diminishing and looking your voice and you're trying to crawl back to something you had before. but so far it seems to be very gradually going up hill. you have a little bit of electricity and urgency in the beginning, and the thing that that ranges of rings and what compensates is you get more craft and more method and able to do it.
you develop a sense of a way of performing, of doing your job or your craft that benefits from experience. >> rose: we conclude this evening with part two of our conversations with historians, they are doris kearns goodwin, jon meacham, bob woodward, bob carry and michael beschloss. >> i think part of what obama has to do in history is one line in the chart is the decline in household income. median household income. it's been falling for 12 years, the american dream a phrase going into the 1930's is in genuine peril, i'm not being yogi bear saying we're at the fork in the road and we should take the fork. it's a fact and the opportunity is going away. there may be a good business cycle coming but we know the long term trend here is heading in the wrong direction. >> rose: james taylor and
from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: james taylor's one of the most recognized voices in american music. the five-time grammy award winner sold close to 100 million albums. he's equally celebrated for his guitar playing, his lyrics and his distinct baritone voice. in 2011 taylor was awarded national medal of arts from the whitehouse and highest arne for artistic achievement. yesterday he performed president obama's second inauguration. ♪ america america god shed his grace on thee ♪ and crown thy birth with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.
♪ from sea to shining sea. [applause] >> rose: i spoke to him on sunday for cbs this morning about his remarkable life and career. here is that conversation. my impression is that the first line of your obituary which is 25 or 30 years from now, you might like it to say songwriter. that's first. >> yes, i think so. i'm an entertainer of strengths, sort of an entertainer but i'm a
musician songwriter. i'm a song right. >> rose: you're happiest when you feel a song. >> that's right. that's the most filling thing, the most delightful thing that happens to me when the pieces fall together and it makes a song. >> rose: what's that like? >> it's just very satisfactory. it's just very, you know, it's like a puzzle fits together somehow. we all do it. writing music is a lot like listening to music or appreciating music with just a little bit of an extra something to it. so you know, songwriters now and musicians know that making music and listening to music is very, they're very close to the same thing. >> rose: is that right. making music akin to listening to music. >> yes. i mean i think a song writing i'm just the first person to
hear the song. but i don't really feel like i have so much in it, i've just heard it. it does sort of, it's the kind of thing that comes through you but it's not ... these what's made it so hard for me to write recently is because happily i'm very busy. i've had a lot of stuff going on and it's hard to be board bored which is what it really takes. >> rose: does it take pain. >> that's one place it comes from. that's one place, pain is a big motivation for all manner of things. no, it also, you know, it just, it comes from the love of music how satisfying it is to be making and listening to music to be directing it, to be the sort of thing to which incredible
language is focused. >> rose: knowing that every member of your family as i do and have, every one of them was a musician and loved music. >> it was so amazing to me that my father was the constant academic. he finished umc, he matric lated at the age of 17. he finished in three years. he went to harvard medical school and was the president and the head of his class for four years running. and then was chief resident at boston city and did his internship at mgh. >> rose: mass general i assume. >> that's right, mass general. and then he went to north carolina where he built a medical school. >> rose: right, he sure did. >> and so he was the consummate academic and that not a single
one of his kids went to college which to me is just baffling. my brother and i started a band. i started making music and performing. >> rose: why was that. >> at the age of 15. it must have been in the water. they loved music. my mom was a musician. >> rose: it was amazing. if i say byron -- what's the first thought you had. he's been very good to me. >> i remember where i was when i wrote that when it first occurred to me. i was in a basement flat in london in the west end. it was, i just remember the room. it was a one room flat and the song just came to me. >> rose: just came to me. >> mm-mm. i mean you know songs, that was
happening frequently to me at that point. >> rose: why was that? >> well i had a lot of empty time. i had a lot of energy. i had a lot of yearning, a lot of unresolved sense of, i very much wanted to express myself and define myself and sort of navigate, you know. i was young, i was 20 years old and you know when you're 20 you just sort of receive the equipment that you've been issued for an entire lifetime. the body, the mind, the skills, the talents, appetites. those things were relatively new to me. songs were coming out and connecting all the time. so i was writing a lot. >> rose: was that the most fertile period for you ever. >> yes, it was. and then after i got enough
success to be, to call myself a professional musician who did this for a living, a different and once i got the huge amount of recognition -- >> rose: the first album in "time" magazine cover in 1971. >> then that changed and it became less of a personal sort of private endeavor and kind of a process. but i was really just busting at the seams to express myself. delighted in the language and the music and the changes and you know everything i listened to, everything i heard, meeting the beatles being signed by them, being present. peter asher sort of discovered me and i sent him a demo.
paul and george listened to it and i played a song for them. >> rose: didn't they have one on a roaring. >> they did, caroline on my mind. >> rose: where did that song come from. >> i was home sick. i was in london. part was written in spain on an island and then i finish it off when i got back to london. i was taking a little break. the beatles were making the white album, they took a break and the studio closed down. me and my friend who is also a beautiful musician wrote that bonnie raitt song stay too long at the fair. but joel and i went to hang out with friend of his down there. smuggler most of them it turned out. but very exciting time. and i was just thinking about north carolina. >> rose: does it just flow once you get on to it, do the
words just come. >> that certainly did. a girl i met from sweden and i, her name is karen, we had gone to either a wedding or a funeral, i can't remember which it was on the island which just next to formetera and we missed the last ferry boat where our stuff was, oursf!ç/iv bags andr friends. so we had to spend the night, didn't have any money for a hotel so we spent the night in a cafe that was closed up for the night. and as we were waiting for the if you are boat to leave in the morning and as the sun came up, that song just ... >> rose: when did sweet baby jane come. >> i was driving, it was six months to a year later. i was driving down route 95 to north carolina to see my nephew james for the first time.
and i was thinking what sort of song would be good for a little baby boy. >> rose: and it just came. >> a cowboy lullaby i had in mind. the spoke half also happened on the road on the turn pike from boston on route 90. so 95, 90. >> rose: and the president's favorite i think is your smiling face. >> that song was just, you know, it's just a celebration, just a happy love song, had a lot of energy to it. a piano player named clarence mcdonald was ever instrumental, no pun intended, in the way that track came out. >> rose: what does that mean. >> well, he played that da da da da da that sort of happy munchkin song. >> rose: your voice is
recognized in popular music. today was it the perfect voice. when you wrote the song was your voice because it came from your heart as a songwriter that it should come from your body as an instrumental. >> really, you're right, it is your body making music, beating, using language. so much comes across in it. you could never parse it, you could never figure out the subtleties with what we hear. >> rose: all the colors. >> when an actor speaks or a friend, you know, there's just so much in it. it's really like we have a huge amount of our brain dedicated to facial recognition. >> rose: absolutely. >> right here. and i am sure the same thing is true for the human voiceamount e
constantly processing. it's a miracle. to be born in the human body on this impossibly benificient planet, the right distance from a bright star and the core that give us protection from the sun and the water and the moon. i mean it's just impossibly perfect. and to be and born here in a position to appreciate it and to, it's just unbelievable. >> rose: something in the way she moves, where did that come >> that was the song i plod -- played for john and paul in my addition. it's a love song in the key of c but it's played with a fingering. it's very typical james taylor
kind of guitar playing. >> rose: what does that mean typical james taylor kind of guitar playing. >> that's where we're using, playing a baseline and sort of moving internal line at the same time. it's not like strumming. it's sort of parallel line on harmony. a lot of movement, a lot of chords. and it's, you know, was a love song through sort of a number of different people. and often also love song are written to an ideal person that you haven't found yet. so the person really that i wrote it about, i was to meet some -- >> rose: it's -- >> that's the other amazing -- >> rose: thinking of something that would eventually come to you. >> that's it. >> rose: i can imagine this
relationship between the two of you. i never is an you so, you've been with her since you met her. >> it's really true. i fell when we met that i met her before, that i've known her in a prior lifetime, it really felt that way. like we were getting back together. one of the reasons why we hoist our flag and make as much noise and as much of ourselves as we can, one reason is to try to become immortal and deal with the constant question of death. but the other reason is to find our partner. we are meant to have a partner in this life, most of us are. and you know, it just became a reasonable probability that she and i would run into each other the she was working for the
boston symphony. i was at the end of a marriage and on my own again, free. and remarkably, she was too. and we met and it just really felt together. >> rose: you knew right awe would i. >> right away. we did. when we get older and if you're sober, that's an important thing too. >> rose: drug free. >> in our an addict, you make the same mistakes over and or again. you live but you don't learn. but if you sober up you have a chance to live and learn. and so i was paying attention. i was reasonably in control of myself. when i met her i knew that that was it. >> rose: the fact that you went through addiction, can you look back and say i learned something from that that was
important in dealing with life. >> absolutely. you know, recovery is a central part of my life. it takes, you have to stay on top of it because it, you don't, it's not like a cure and then you don't have to worry about it anymore. you have to pay attention and be mindful. and it also requires the help of a lot of other people in recovery to keep it strong and to keep it working. but there are huge advantages to that aside from recovery too to be in a community like that. so yes, going through addiction, it was necessary for me. i think one of the thing that there's a lot to say here, and i won't get into it too deeply but but you know, it's a pity to throw away, to waste your life
living the same tiny day over and over again, you know. do you know it would be ground hog day, that's a great movie, howard ramus and bill murray. >> rose: yes. rolling stones summed your philosophy, they said. this is the magazine. was this 1985 song that's why i'm here. fortune and pain such a curious gain, perfect stranger can call you by name. pay money to hear fire and rain again and again and again. i break into a grin are from year to year and suddenly it's perfectly clear that's why i'm here. does that speak to you? >> well yes, that's another one of those sort of self declamatory song where one is at any given moment. that song has three verses. the first one is that one's
about the audience. and you know some are like, some are coming back every year. baby in their blanket and their bucket of beer. that's my audience on the lawn in the summertime i break into a grin, etcetera. but the one before that was of song, you know, the verse about love and then the first one was about friendship. and you know, so it's a song, the chorus is that's why i'm here. >> rose: it seems to me there's a theme running through your life that says i'm not alone. >> that's the thing with human beings. we're not alone. we live in isolated individualated conscious necessary which we evolve at the moment we're born. and it is an isolated and lonely place. it is a part. we create the world in our heads and we navigate it. we're constantly comparing it
with other people's words but we are isolated. loneliness is a human condition, and isolation. and mainly we do a number of things primarily, one is to compare our world view, our take on it, our assembled hypothetical world with other peoples to make sure it's accurate because it's a matter of survival for us. >> rose: let me just talk about life in a sense of where you are and what you've done. all those grammies. a hundred. >> it's not all those grammies. let me explain to you. people win six grammies at a time, you know. they've come along at a modest rate. i'm not saying there should have been more, i'm just saying that that as a, you know. >> rose: that's not a big deal, the grammies, it's nice but many people have won. how many people have sold 100
million albums? >> that's a lot of albums. that's a lot of people listening to what you're putting down. and that's been, that's like the main thing. >> rose: that's the main thing. >> for whatever reason to get the word out there. it seems self serving, but what isn't, you know. >> rose: you can't go anywhere in the world. >> well that's not true. >> rose: it is true. where? where could i go and not hear byron green. >> i suppose you might hear that. i don't know. i mean, you know, it's an interesting thing. the level of my celebrity, the level of my public recognition is quite manageable. i don't know if it's because i'm at, it's at a good number or if it's because the people rue help
nays me really treat me well. and they do. >> rose: do they love you. >> they certainly, it's never a drag when someone comes up and says something nice. >> rose: i never quite understood that. just came for people who say it's a bother, you know. in the end, the 100 million albums, no matter how many great honors, that's the honor that must be the most satisfying. >> it comes down to people to be useful i think. to being, that there are a lot of people who from time to time find it either pleasant or therapeutic or celebratory or something to listen to one of my songs to put it on or to go to a
concert and hear that. that's what keeps me going. >> rose: do you like to listen. >> sometimes although i tend to focus on what went wrong or what didn't get done or you know. i hear i'm still listening to the potential. >> rose: are you really. >> when i'm recording. >> rose: almost analytic. >> yes, critical. but you know, some of them i do like to listen to. mostly i like to play them. it's a funny thing about writing songs is that often if you're a single songwriter, the first time a song will get really played by the band and first time you try it out at all it gets recorded and then that's it for the agent whereas if you write a song and perform it 20 times, 30 times it really sorts itself out. i often wish i could, you know, that i weren't writing for a
recording something. the first time we're on to something fresh. >> rose: let me understand this. because it will be better. >> it gets better with time as you perform it. so performing these songs is not so much listening to them but playing them and replaying them with, that's the other thing, the be thing is the band that i work with, these musicians that i've been able to work with over the years have been just, that's a joy, you know. that's a great delight. >> rose: so you finally figured out how to sing carolina on my mind. >> yes. >> rose: the lady's interpretation is the right one. >> that's right. i think there comes a point where you start diminishing and losing your voice and you're trying to crawl back to something that you had before. but so far it seems to be very
gradually heading uphill. you get better, i think you have a little bit of sort of electricity and urgency in the beginning and the thing that fact rings and what compensates is you get more craft, you get more method and more able to do that. the you develop a sense of the way of performing, of doing your job as a craft that benefits from experience and repetition. >> rose: the last album was 2002. >> yes. it was 2003. >> rose: tend years ago. >> ten years ago now. i've made a christmas album sense then. i made two cover albums. i did a show called one man band which was basically me and piano. it was larry and i. and that was a nice project too. so there has been things. carol king and i did the
troubador but no songs for ten years. >> rose: are we imminent. >> yes, we are. as a matter of fact tomorrow will be the last thing on my calendar. >> rose: because you're going into the recording studio. >> i'm going into the cave to or out into the woods or whatever, wherever i'm going to find these songs. >> rose: what are you singing about? what are they about. >> that's the thing. i think that i've often said i've written 15 songs ten times each. but actually i think that there are only like 50 song in the world. >> rose: really. >> yes. and he a pull just come back and revisit and rewrite. >> rose: heart aches, love. >> yes, sure. >> rose: first love. >> indignation, revenge. >> rose: jealousy, pain, all that. >> yes, lust. >> rose: that's true did
novels too. you can list all the subjects that novels are all written about the same 25 subjects. >> so you know, that's true. i go back and i will visit themes like going home, seeking spiritual performance, songs about love and longing and you know songs that just that there are themes that you keep coming back to. >> rose: your most introspective, define yourself. tell me where your place is. >> you know, i think i'm of musician who comes out of the folk tradition. >> rose: exactly. >> i was, because i don't, i'm not formally trained.
and i'm sort of, so in that way i'm a folk musician. but from the classification that people would give it, just i'm what's called a pop musician. >> rose: pop musician. >> popular music singing song righting. >> rose: it was really a good job. you're part of the american maverick too. i mean i can write this stuff. >> well you know, that's not for me to say. >> rose: you really are. this is the inauguration of the president of the united states and he wants three people there. >> but i haven't done it yet. don't jinx it. >> rose: i won't. but america the beautiful? >> yes, that's nice. >> rose: that's nice. >> it's a version of the song i've been playing for a couple years that we developed out on the road. so i know the song well. i've got a good shot at bringing
it off tomorrow. >> rose: yes, you do. ha ha ha. i suspect you will. what could go wrong? nothing. >> no. nothing could go wrong. what could possibly go wrong. >> rose: nothing could go wrong. >> i like the next verse that says america, america god mend thine every know flaw by liberty and law. that's not the verse i'll sing but that's a good one. >> rose: what's the verse you'll sing. >> you knew, god shed his grace on thee and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea. that's nice. i mean it's great and a lovely song. you know you just get into the song you get into the arrangement and singing it ask
it is a lovely patriotic tune. and you know, america is such a noble experiment. it's really the light of the world. a lot of people are angry with us but mainly because of our sort of corporate colonialism that we practice. that's not the american people. those are individuals who are acting badly, you know. not standing alone and union carbide nepal -- that's a real problem for the future aside from carbon in the atmosphere, you know, what we do with corporate organization and corporate power and how we make it serve human beings and the largest number of human beings at that, and not just enslave
human beings and you know march backwards. that's a big, that's a big knot for human beings to deal with, this question because corporations don't have the same human priorities. the supreme court and the citizens united decision notwithstanding corporations are not humans. they have a very selective and a very limited and not very humane priority. >> rose: and a very different mission. >> and a very different mission. i mean a robbing baron will at least put his name on a hospital or you see a lot of football stadiums with enron on them but the point is that these things use portions little slices of people. there are three people waiting to take their job and do that little you know, dedicate that little piece of yourself to that
number being as large as it can be. and that's not, it just incomplete is what it is. it's not whole and it's not human. and i think other countries have done a better job at asking corporate power to serve human beings better than we have. >> rose: and to be regulated. >> yes. >> rose: but the other side of that too is what you were referring to, it is the sense of america the beautiful. it is the sense of the noble idea, it is the sense, you know, that other countries as they have come into being the first place they go to look. these are documents. >> that's right. the french revolution. >> rose: what is it that all of that happens again at inauguration. you remember that. >> i do. >> rose: you remember what george washington said at his
inaugural and fdr and lincoln. >> to me the founding fathers are the dream and the civil war and abraham lincoln are where the rubber hits the road, that's where this country sort of manifests. and that's where its division manifested and we still suffer from those divisions of the civil war. we're still fighting the civil war i think and there are people who, you know, to their discredit, there are people who mine and encourage us to refight the civil war. they find political strength from doing that. i'm talking to karl rove here and reopening the wounds of the civil war. >> rose: for political advantage. >> for political base and to hide their real political agenda which is elitist and you can't sell to a whole bunch of people because it didn't benefit anyway. >> rose: what i say about
music, it's just ideas. it's the people that receive them, you know. >> right. >> rose: people that receive. >> that's very well put. music is not something that you, i mean although critics do it all the time, music either hits or misses. a song comes in and it's either happens or it doesn't. and you don't decide, you know, this is going all right i'm going to go ahead and feel this way. it's so direct, it's so quick. because it's pure language and music follows the rules of the physical universe. an octave is twice the octave below it. the overtone series is a physical reality. a major 7th chord, i'm convinced has an emotional package that it comes with and a minor diminished chord has tension to it. and the way these thing go together and follow each other,
the sequence and also it takes five minutes. and takes you on a ride, five minute ride but so do movies and stuff but movies are nothing without music. >> rose: indeed. so all these honors, national medal of arts, are rock and roll hall of fame. songwriter's hall of fame -- from the french. >> yes, that was i guess of all of them that was the most surprising and it's sort of like i speak french and kim and i when we want to say something the kids don't understand, we both speak reasonable french. i've written a couple songs in french and i you know, it was
like unrequite for a long time foo of but somehow that order of the shelf lay made it all well, made it all seem to make up for everything. we're going to keep going back to france and trying to build our audience there to find a way to spend more time touring there. >> rose: and then go to china. >> yes. in hong kong, which was really i think i was playing the colonial side of thing. >> rose: yes, that's true. >> but i loved it. i would love to go to china. i have no idea whether i have an audience there or not. >> rose: is there anything you have wanted badly that you don't have? >> yes, it's really pretty much all of it has pretty much happened. it has. >> rose: thank you. >> i mean you know, it's been an
unbelievable ride and so gratifying i cannot believe my luck. >> rose: what will be thinking tomorrow or monday? >> i'm going to try to be in the moment as much as possible and enjoy it. and take it all in because it's fully an amazing thing to be part of that moment. to be given a place in that ceremony. flush that's a big deal. >> rose: thank you, james, you are my brother. >> you are my brother. >> rose: yesterday we aired part one of our conversation with historians on the eve of the inauguration. they included doris kearns goodwin, jon meacham, michael beschloss, robert caro and bob woodward. here is part two of that conversation. doris do you think when those historians met with the president they had any influence
on him and what came out of those meetings even though you're not supposed to acknowledge you were there. >> no, you know, i think to go back to what bob said. the fact that you've got a president who reads history means that he's learning from previous presidents. he's not just learning from his first term but the stories and the try alls and the tragedies of previous presidents are in his head. harry truman read a lot of history, teddy roosevelt and so does barack obama and i think that's a really helpful thing. what history will tell you even though there is this second term curse idea, there's no great historic president without a second term. it's a huge opportunity because the country has already legitimized what you did in the first term as complicated as it might be during the recession. they wanted you back again. and now you've got a chance to build the base for the future. i mean ronald reagan built an electoral base that lasted for decades so did fdr. if he was able to have a democrat follow him four years
from now then maybe the idea that government can be hipful to people, go back to what bob carry said that whole idea what we can do with collective action has returned because we've spent a couple decades with 9 idea that government was the enemy. that would be a big shift if that's possible. the only other thing i would say i think he needs to think about the economy even if it's beginning to recover there's still a problem for the manufacturing base not being here, for are kids not being trained correctly, for getting more jobs that are really good jobs for people here. there's a lot of ideas that have been put forth but they need to be focused in a certain way, the idea if you work hard you really can get ahead in this country just like people did in the old days. >> rose: i want to come back to that. michael. >> there are all sorts of reasons for optimism but since we're talking about history, one cautionary note. lbj at the beginning of 1965 i think bob will confirm this, said to his staff you may think i can do anything. big land lied, big democratic congress. actually i got six months because i'm going to ask members
of congress to make sacrifices. they're going to start rebelling and it turns out much what we think was a great society was passed at the very beginning of that term. >> rose: what's the window of opportunity, is it a hundred days. >> six, maybe eight months. >> rose: jon. >> that's a great point. it's amazing to me bhn we talk of the high water margin of the popular society it seems to have gone on for so long. it went on and bob can correct me here 65, what happened in 1966. a man named ronald reagan became the governor of california and the counterrevolution was already at work. i think that's hugely important. the other thing to turn the telescope around once more i think a huge part of how obama will stand in history has to do with one line on the chart which is the decline in household income median household income is falling for 12 years. the american dream a coin
phrased in the 19 307 is in genuine peril. i'm know being yogi bear and saying there's a fork in the road and we should take the fork. that's an economic fact and the opportunity is going away. there may be a good business cycle coming but we know the long term trend here is heading in the wrong direction. >> that's not a big deal. that's not an abstraction it's a standard of living. it's warren buffett who talk about this and that's got to be addressed in the context of getting the economy growing again, dealing with the terribly high unemployment that still exists and so forth. so there's some very practical problems that need to be solved. but you know, all of you or most of you are experts on lyndon johnson that my reading of your book and others about lyndon johnson, yes, is that he was
always engaged. and sometimes people didn't like him but even people who disagreed with him kind of liked his energy and his engagement. he could call these people and say i've got to have your vote because of that engagement. obama still has not crossed that threshold where he is engaged individually, not just with the leaders in the republican party but the leaders in his own party. >> rose: the first question is that part of his dna, you know. and even his core competence to do that. my second point is does he believe it's effective. i don't know if i believe what he says it accomplished objectives. >> it may be with the republicans that it wasn't able to accomplish the objective. that he himself has said he plays golf with boehner but then nothing happened after that. but i think he still has room to get the democrats in those rooms more, to bring them over more, to keep his own base happy and
going. i think it is in his dna. one of the other interesting things he said in the interviews in that first term he really wanted to spend time with his kids, they were growing up. that's the base of his security, it's the base of who he is. thank god we have a grounded president but now they don't want to spend time with him anymore so he's got more time to have these democrats floating around. >> i've been very puzzled why george bush, he went to bed at 9:30 but you could do a lot of before 9:30 if you needed to. you don't have to have long endless dinners but you do have to have people in and out of house. george h.w. bush took a polaroid camera and have congressmen sit on the lincoln bedroom and take a picture of it knowing no congressman was going to throw away a picture taken by the president of the united states. does it lead immediately to post partisan hall hall awe, absolutely not. the politics is about giving as well as taking.
what is practicable must control what is pure theory and the president charlie your question's exactly right, i do think this president continues to think and overly theoretical ways about how he speeds his time. >> rose: i want to come to the legacy of the question of of course and equality and declining standard of living. jon meacham in we make the case ronald ronald reagan was a great president what makes him a great president. >> i think what made ronald reagan a great president is his life experience as a union negotiator was put to work in foreign policy. and what do you do if you're a negotiator you ask for a hundred percent and several for 50. you say the union reserves the right to lie cheat and steal he called it an evil empire before the national association of evangelicals in orlando, you can't make this stuff up. and then in 1985, safely reelected he meets with
gorbachev and led to standing in the red square with gorbachev and say there's no longer an evil empire that belonged to another time. a year later the year he left the office ten months after he left washington the berlin wall comes down. so i think michael's exactly right about yes, coming out of the presidency he seemed to be an era of greed and deficits but it's pretty safe to say right now he's remembered for pretty effective foreign policy. >> rose: i want to focus on foreign policy. so what is the challenge for the president in foreign policy? >> my discussions with him for the first book i did obama's wars and looking exactly how he makes decisions, it's very clear he does not like war, he has a deep aversion to war. his challenge in the next years
is going to be convince people that even though he doesn't like war and he wants to avoid war, he will do it. he will use military force as necessary. the credibility of that threat needs to be very very high. >> rose: it shows that when we as historians look back, we never know what's going to come in these next couple years ahead. think about fdr, what maybe that he packed the cord and didn't do well but he became the leader of the allied forces even in 1940 before his third term and he mobilized the country for war and that's his huge legacy which we could never have guessed. world war ii breaks out. but i think the interesting thing about obama's first term on foreign policy was the one area where people thought he would be troubledded. that was hillary clinton's 3 am
ad and seems more comfortable. that's again where the experience of the first term may make that second term more easy for him because he's had a lot of world experience between these last four years. >> rose: what do we make of this idea, that he has gone from a team of rivals to a bad of brothers. looking at the united states senators who served with him on the foreign policy committee on the foreign affairs committee, hagel, kerry and brennan who has been with him four years. >> what happened with president lincoln at the beginning of his second term he no longer needed those rivals to shore them up. he brought them in the first place because he had last experience expej case. by the time he reached his second term he put people he felt comfortable with. some of them were gone. i'm not sure it's a problem. as long as they can still argue with him and debate with him and question his assumptions which is what you want from rivals
inside an inner circle as long as they're independent. >> rose: let me turn to the first term. tell me how you address grade own on the first term. >> i think he really wrote, that is a legacy, that is a thing that really moved justice. lyndon johnson would say maybe that saw like he admitted the first civil rights law was really bad but he said the important thing was to pass it. once you pass it, it's easy to go back and fix it. and i think that if i look back on his first term, i think of two things. one was the healthcare and foreign paul is a maybe because i'm writing right now about a president bringing a country into a war it didn't need. i think in a way president obama is winding down wars. >> rose: that's one of the things in the atmosphere about
him. jon meacham, three presidents that you know well now, andrew jackson, thomas jefferson and george bush 41. how do you assess the first term of barack obama. >> i think if president obama had somehow lost in november, he would have a very strong historical hand to play. because the prevention of more economic disaster in 2009 is something that is not fully people who are suffering, historian like that kind of thing. you could have an assessment of how he had done and he had done pretty well in doing that. and i think that that great historian, the gibbin of our time joe by i put it correctly when he said osama bin laden is dead and detroit is alive. it's been a difficult four years i agree with bob on health insurance. it's pretty good four years.
at some point maybe to you charlie obama said if i'm a one term president i'd rather get this right than be a two term president. i don't want to say it's all downhill from here but so far if his biographers i think would have a favorable view of these four years. >> i think something else historian might notice that the current generation notices less and that is that for instance when richard nixon became president he inherited a foreign policy from lyndon johnson almost totally driven by prosecuting the vietnam war. he broad ened it with initiatives. barack obama when he inherited george bush's foreign policy combating terrorism to the exclusion often times of other thing, he's made this a much more balanced foreign policy and he's done it almost soundlessly. and i think that causes people sometime not to give him the credit. >> rose: doris kearns goodwin. >> i think, i'll take all three of them. >> rose: i know you will.
>> the re-election really sert fies the legacy. think if he wasn't elected. maybe obamacare would have been undone in congress. abortion rights might have gone backwards. now we are sure they will not under his administration. con tra ception will be out there. the sense that the country can move in the direction that he was trying to move it which goes back to what we've been saying all along that collective action can produce individual help. might have been shifted in the other direction had he not won. so everything he accomplished i think is multiplied by the fact that he won that reelection. it's human. bigger than it seemed at the time. >> rose: in fact, he has said, in the last several months that this victory was as much, was as important not more important because in fact it was a referendum on what he had done before in the first four year. >> absolutely. >> rose: okay bob i leave it to you to sort of sum up the
first term. >> first of all i think the real questions are what has he learned and how has he grown. and we're only going to see that in the second term, and it's very easy for a president to get what's going on and what the future problems are wrong. if you go back 40 years to richard nixon's inaugural which was a lot about i'm ending the war in vietnam and even went so far as saying we are standing on the threshold of a new era of world peace. that turned out as we know not to be the case. and so we're going to, doris kearns is right. i mean, it's so clear that you can't almost be a great president with a great legacy unless you get a second term.
and he has it and we're going to see what he's learned and how he's grown. and i think in four years, if it is that he learned a lot of and grew a lot, it will be another, it will be a good four years. >> rose: thank you for joining us. a pleasure to have you and we look forward to covering this president and his team as they begin to start the second term of president obama. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org